Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Posted August 13, 2020 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Dystopian, Review, Science-Fiction / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James DashnerThe Maze Runner (The Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner
Narrator: Mark Deakins
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Published by Listening Library on 10-12-09
Genres: Dystopian, Science-Fiction
Length: 10 hrs and 50 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Libby
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: three-half-stars

There are alternate cover editions for this ASIN here and here.
If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.

I had read so many good things about this book (and this series) that I had great expectations. Sadly, it did not fulfill them. The Maze Runner is often compared to The Hunger Games, but even after finishing it, I fail to see the similitude. Thomas is the main character in this story, and we witness his arrival to the Glade, where other boys live doing several tasks and trying to solve the maze surrounding the Glade. No one remembers their past, and their only goal is surviving and trying to find an exit. The premises were great, but I am afraid the execution was quite poor. The first thing that came to mind but no one questioned is why there are only boys in the Glade. Where are the girls? Are they in another camp with similar characteristics? It is possible that this will be developed in future books, but I am just not going to find out.

After his arrival, poor Thomas wants to know how things work in the Glade to be able to make the most of it, as anyone would expect, but nobody seems to want to answer his questions. The truth is too terrible to be said, it is better to live in ignorance for as long as possible. This and the need to keep the reader intrigued were the only possible reasons I could fathom, but even like that, it is not enough, and I got quickly annoyed at the withholding of information without any real reason. It seems Dashner wanted to create expectations about the whole thing but it quickly deflated as it was just a smokescreen with nothing behind it.

There were several elements that prevented me from fully enjoying the story, on one hand, the poor descriptions of the Glade and the characters, and on the other hand the lack of character development. It is clear from the start that this is not a character-driven story, but in such case, I would have expected more from the plot, but the rhythm was all over the place, and after building an enormous intrigue by holding back information, the truth is suddenly revealed through visions triggered by serious wounds and a medical serum. As a result, I never got fully invested in the story nork the characters, which was a pity, because this idea had great potential.

The monsters in the story are supposed to be blood-curdling scary, but the poor descriptions make them awkward and almost comical. I can’t still picture them in my mind without imagining a cartoonish mechanical arm coming out of a giant slug.

The book felt very long-winded in general and with little nitty-gritty. This kind of story needs to have better-developed characters and leave certain clues along the way to feed the imagination and the hunger of the reader. Attention to detail is essential. This book failed on all fronts.

Mark Deakins’ narration was correct and he made the characters recognizable. Nowadays, narration has become more of an art form than it used to be, but for the time this book was recorded (2009), it was a fairly good narration. The audio production was spotless.

Now that my curiosity has been satisfied, I won’t be continuing this series. Too many good books out there and too little time to spend more of it on this story.

Story (Plot)
Overall: three-half-stars